A milestone has been reached in the development of electric mobility in Berlin with the commissioning of the world's first wirelessly charged electric bus in a capital city. The Berlin Transport Authority, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), has positioned itself as a pioneer in urban mobility by introducing four Solaris Urbino 12 electric buses equipped with the BOMBARDIER PRIMOVE inductive charging system and traction equipment from Vossloh Kiepe. Moreover, the new e-buses will significantly improve the city's environmental performance. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.
BVG already transports around two-thirds of its passengers electrically with subways or trams, as well as with its four solar-powered ferries. Starting Monday, August 31, Germany's biggest transport company now also runs electric buses. Line 204 between Südkreuz and Zoologischer Garten (Hertzallee) now operates exclusively with electric buses. Thanks to Vossloh Kiepe's electric drive, these vehicles are not only emission-free, but also produce low vibration and noise, benefitting passengers, local residents and the environment at the same time.
The buses charge like an electric toothbrush at home, wirelessly and contactless, but with a far greater capacity and performance. At the end stops, Bombardier's inductive PRIMOVE technology enables the buses to recharge in just a few minutes.
State Secretary Rainer Bomba, Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, explained: "The Federal Ministry of Transport is funding the project with a total of about 4.1 million euros. We want to promote electric mobility in public transport with projects like this. The wireless charging technology that will be used from now, on the line 204, provides low-emission and low-noise transport. This will benefit local residents and transport stakeholders alike."
Rainer Bomba, State Secretary at Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Andreas Geisel, Senator for Urban Development and Environment, and Cornelia Yzer, Senator for Economics, Technology and Research, all sent the first e-bus from its charging station at Berlin's Südkreuz station off to its fixed-route service through the city. As the diesel buses were gradually replaced, line 204 was finally electrified completely.
"I am delighted that the electric buses and the inductive charging devices will start operating today. Electric buses on the streets of Berlin are part of a package of measures to facilitate a breakthrough of this environmentally friendly technology. To get the maximum benefit from this practical use, I have also pledged, to the BVG, to support the co-financing of the project from mid-2016, after the Federal funding, until 2023", said Senator Geisel.
Senator Yzer: "Berlin starts as the world's first capital city to put a complete line of wireless e-charged buses in operation. Thus, we document our claim as a Smart City and as a reference location for the implementation of the energy turnaround. In the German capital city, we can test pilot developments in transparent structures and prepare them for global applications. Besides 'Made in Berlin' also 'Tested in Berlin' is a valid seal of approval."
On the 6.1-km long route through the inner city, passengers now have 18 stops to get on and off and to enjoy the e-buses' quiet and smooth ride. Worries that the vehicles could run out of power in traffic or while on the road are just as unfounded as concerns about the charging technology itself. The PRIMOVE battery system, with a total capacity of 90 kilowatt hours, offers sufficient energy reserves to handle even Berlin's most demanding routes. In addition, the wireless charging system is well shielded so that the electromagnetic radiation is lower than that of a conventional induction cooker. To fully charge the batteries overnight and air condition the passenger compartment before starting operation, four stationary and one mobile charging station were also installed by Vossloh Kiepe at the BVG depot. There the buses are supplied with power via charging cables.
Like all BVG's electric powered vehicles, the new Solaris Urbino 12 electrics are powered exclusively with green electricity. Within one year, the four electric buses on the line 204 will cover at a total of approx. 200,000 kilometres, saving 260 tons of CO2 emissions. Approximately 250 private cars would have to be electrified to reach the same effect. Furthermore, because the e-bus is as quiet as an average car, noise pollution has been reduced as well. As a precaution, an external speaker has been installed enabling the driver to announce the approach to a stop
The pilot project "E-Bus Berlin" will also provide valuable experience about the operation of battery buses and the Technical University of Berlin, whose research helped determined the necessary charging time and capacity of batteries, is now carrying out a technical and economic evaluation of the project. The operational phase of the e-bus 204 as part of the "Internationalen Schaufensters Elektromobilität Berlin-Brandenburg" will run until autumn 2016.
Responses to the project
Dr. Sigrid Evelyn Nikutta, Chief Executive Officer / Executive Operation, Berlin Transport Company (BVG):
"BVG operates 151 bus lines with 6,500 stops. More than 400 million passengers reached their destination last year alone with our 1,300 buses. The fact that we are now the first to switch four electric buses to electric mobility on line 204 is a fundamental step towards greener Berlin bus traffic. Before such a large fleet like this can be converted to electric vehicles completely, long-term tests under everyday conditions are required. These are now beginning between the Südkreuz and Zoologischer Garten stations. Moreover, we are happy to have found such powerful partners from politics, business and research for this important pilot project."
Dr. Lutz Bertling, President and Chief Operating Officer, Bombardier Transportation:
"The PRIMOVE system opens up new possibilities for electric buses. It offers a wireless charging system that is easy to integrate and comfortable in use. Along with the PRIMOVE high-performance battery, normal bus stops are transformed into inductive charging stations - it doesn't require additional vehicles or extended stopping periods. After Braunschweig and Mannheim, where the operation with PRIMOVE e-buses has been running successfully, Berlin is the world's first capital applying our smart technology. The basic idea in developing PRIMOVE was to make electric mobility convenient and suitable for everyday use. And this is not just for electric buses, but for all electric traction vehicles. "
Dr. Andreas Strecker, CEO, Solaris Bus & Coach S.A:
"I am very pleased that we have successfully completed the tests at this stage. Together with our excellent partners, we will now ensure that the electric buses show their strengths in passenger operations. Starting today, Berlin citizens are sure to be convinced of the undoubted advantages of Solaris battery buses in regular service. The most exciting part of the project has begun because the buses can now fulfil their role, by transporting passengers quietly, cleanly and smoothly through the capital city of Germany. Solaris sees itself as a driving force and pioneer in the introduction and dissemination of electric mobility in city buses. Today's commissioning of four electrically operated and inductively charged battery buses in Berlin is a true milestone in this process."
Prof. Dr. Christian Thomsen, President, TU Berlin:
"This beacon of Berlin electro-mobility would not have been possible without the successful collaboration of the Federal government, the State, transport companies, industry and science. In early 2011, Prof. Dr. Dietmar Göhlich first talked about the electrification of bus traffic with BVG At that time, first the principle feasibility stood in the foreground, and we developed a model for creating operational concepts for electrified bus lines. As part of ongoing research at the TU Berlin, we built the charging station at Hertzallee and we are now performing a comprehensive technical and economic evaluation. But we are also looking to the future. Based on the project experience, future scenarios for further electrification of bus services are being developed, and in the research campus Mobility2Grid, we deal with the integration of e-buses in a so-called Smart Grid."
Erik Lenz, Sales Manager Bus & E-Mobility Systems, Vossloh Kiepe GmbH:
"For 65 years now, Kiepe has manufactured traction equipment for various types of electric buses and has thus been able to gain a lot of experience with electric mobility. We are proud to be involved in this innovative project with the BVG, which underlines our slogan, Kiepe: Future meets experience. Vossloh Kiepe together with Solaris has implemented many types of electric buses, including electric buses with occasional recharging, overnight charging, fuel cell range-extenders and in-motion charging, in which the batteries are recharged via overhead wires during a trip. We are excited about the operation of the bus system and the knowledge that we will all gain from it. And we are pleased about the further exchange of ideas with our long-time customer BVG to support Berlin in achieving its environmental objectives."
Framework data of the "E-Bus Berlin" showcase project
BVG bus line
S Südkreuz, S+U Zoologischer Garten (Hertzallee)
Number of bus stops
Route (each direction)
Travel time (per route)
approx. 24 min
Number of buses
Manufacturer of inductive charging system
Inductive charging system
PRIMOVE charging system 200, charging power: 200 kW (inductive quick charging system), efficiency: >90 %, Power supply: 400 V AC
• 2 on the route (Südkreuz and Hertzallee)
• 1 in BVG depot (Indira-Gandhi-Strasse)
4-7 min at the bus terminus
1.300 g/bus-km, approx. 260 tons per annum (entire line)
• Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) AöR (operator and consortium leader)
• Bombardier Transportation GmbH (charging and battery system)
• Solaris Deutschland GmbH (development and manufacture of bus)
• Technical University of Berlin (system simulation and accompanying research, charging station Hertzallee)
• Vossloh-Kiepe GmbH (traction equipment, board power supply and energy management)
Technical data of electric buses used
Solaris Bus & Coach S.A.
Solaris Deutschland GmbH, Berlin-Adlershof
Urbino 12 electric
Length x Width x Height
12.0 m x 2.55 m x 3.35 m
Permissible maximum weight
Number of passengers
33, of which 19 podium free
Manufacturer of drive engineering
Vossloh Kiepe GmbH
Asynchronous central motor (type TSA TMF 35), power: 160 kW